Last month “The world’s greatest Triumph event!” Tridays, took place in Neukirchen, Austria. Over the course of 7 days thousands of Triumph fans from around Europe, the UK and other parts of the globe came together to enjoy live music, stunt bike displays, riding events (on and off the road) and much more. While the event itself is an impressive spectacle it’s the custom Triumphs built specially for the show that really caught my eye. This year Italian workshop Free Spirits Racing Components was tasked with producing the official bike for Tridays 12. I got in touch with Free Spirits owner Marcello and he shared the story of how the Tridays 12 Bonneville came to be.
The Tridays 12 project had a bit of a rocky start. While most custom builds are based on motorcycles that the builders hand pick themselves, Marcello’s starting point was predetermined. Tridays event organiser Uli Bree wanted the custom to be based around a new Triumph Bonneville, a bike that Marcello wasn’t exactly excited by.
“In the beginning I didn’t even like the bike and I was unsure of how to make it better. Before we could even start thinking about customizing it, and engineering new parts, we had to improve its handling, and turn this bike into, by our standards, a rideable motorcycle. To achieve this, we had to work on the engine, the suspension, the brakes and the transmission belt before anything else.”
The design process at Free Spirits goes far beyond the sketch book. Marcello uses a process which he explains in three stages. Firstly every modification made to the bike is thoroughly calculated and designed before any construction occurs. Secondly a strict function over form approach is taken so performance is never sacrificed and lastly every modification is reversible.
After three attempts at building a custom exhaust system that met Marcello’s performance standards he had found his passion for the project and it all started falling into place. “The 2-into-2 exhaust system is a prototype. The headers are made from thin walled (1mm.) lightweight, 45mm diameter stainless steel tubing. Our concept billet mufflers lower the exhaust note using our unique baffle design rather than the standard end caps. The final set up resulted in no loss of power.”
“A belt transmission was used primarily to reduce loss of power between the transmission box and rear wheel. A 65 tooth alloy pulley in the rear and a 29 tooth at the front with a 130 tooth belt produced the same ratio combination as the stock bike. This setup alsocompletely eliminates the need for greasing, adjusting tension and cleaning, making it a low maintenance motorcycle!
The bikes fully adjustable rear suspension comes from Bitubo. To make the bike more reactive and easier to handle on bends we mounted the shocks on custom made riser blocks. Rather than just buying longer shocks we decided to develop these riser blocks for people who want the handling upgrades without replacing the Bonneville’s original shock absorbers.”
“The front forks were inspired by Ducati’s 1987 851 prototype. The shock absorber has basically the same technology as the rear Bitubo shocks with adjustments to carry a different load and to have 120mm of working stroke. The original forks are now totally empty and travel is now much smoother and more guided.”
The Bonneville’s dual intake manifold features two front facing (the direction they are designed go!), K&N hi-flow filters made possible using 180 degree elbows from the Free Spirits parts range. The 57mm diameter, tubular stainless steel elbow is made using a patented process and the final result from the combination brings in so much air that it results in an extremely lean mix. To cope with this another Free Spirits product, their fuel injector kit needed to be added to the build.
Other additions to the Tridays 12 Triumph from the Free Spirits catalog include billet rear set pegs, engine crash pads designed to distribute pressure during impact and fork/swing arm crash pads designed to let the bike slide rather that catch and flip (a set up they have tested out on the track). Front brake rotors from New Fren (designed under the guidance of Free Spirits) combined with Brembo calipers provide superior stopping power over the factory set up and a billet bracket behind the number plate on the front holds the original speedo and a set of 4 LEDs for standard warning/running alerts.
“If it hadn’t been for the experience of the Tridays 12 team, close cooperation with Berti-Moto (a Triumph dealer), Bitubo Suspension, Kompo-tech, Newfren, and our friend Hubs for painting it, the bike would never have been finished in time. Many thanks to all involved in and out my business that supported my mood and a special thanks to Uli Bree and his team for their trust in me.” Marcello
The bike was unveiled at Tridays 12 on a rainy afternoon to the huge crowds in attendance and received the praise it deserved. Free Spirits Racing Components design, engineer and manufacture parts for Triumph, Buell and Harley Davidson motorcycles. To browse their catalog of parts you can visit the Free Spirits website.